Small Businesses Face Brunt of Insurance Hikes

State regulators approve rate requests for Regence and HealthNet, while other requests are pending

February 10, 2010 -- The Oregon Insurance Division approved a 16 percent rate increase on Regence individual health plans renewing after April and a 12.2 percent increase on HealthNet small group plans.

Regence, in its filing for a rate increase on individual plans, had asked for a 25.3 percent hike affecting up to 70,000 people.

State regulators also approved HealthNet's 12.2 percent rate increase on 36,000 small group members starting April 1. 

Several rate requests are still pending in the small group market, which include a 15.4 percent rate hike by United HealthCare in March, a 14 percent increase by HealthNet in August and a 9.9 percent increase by Kaiser in July. These increases would impact employers that have between 2-50 employees.

None of those requests will be decided under the new rules scheduled to take place in April, according to Cheryl Martinis, Insurance Division spokesperson.

In its latest filing, Kaiser justified part of the increase on a 1 percent premium tax imposed by the legislature last year. It's intended to lower health insurance costs in the long run by decreasing the ranks of the uninsured – including low-income adults and children through the Oregon Health Plan.

Currently 30,755 children have joined the Healthy Kids Plan, while 25,000 adults have been enrolled in OHP Standard. Another 57,600 names were on the reservation list as of Jan. 29, according to Dr. Bruce Goldberg, acting administrator of the Oregon Health Authority.   

Kaiser said its medical costs increased by 6.6 percent between 2008 and 2009, while prescription costs grew by 7 percent during the same period. If approved, its 9.9 percent rate increase would impact 31,700 small group members. Kaiser also increased co-payments on urgent care and in-office injections, which decreased premiums by one-tenth of one percent. 

In contrast, HealthNet’s request for a 14 percent hike on 37,000 small group members comes closer to actual medical cost increases. In its rate filing, HealthNet said its medical costs grew by 13.25 percent since January, and drug costs went up 13 percent. 

For a related story that appeared in last week's edition on rising insurance rates click here.

To review all rate requests, click here.

RECENT HEALTH INSURANCE RATE INCREASES

Company Coverage type Effective date Date submitted Avg increase requested Approved Members affected Review
HealthNet Small Employer 8/1/2010 2/8/2010 14.00% pending 37,189 Link
HealthNet Small Employer 4/1/2010 1/5/2010 12.20% 12.20% 36,844 Link
Kaiser Small Employer 7/1/2010 1/25/2010 9.90% pending 31,700 Link
Pacificsource Portability 4/1/2010 12/22/2009 17.00% 14.50% 769 Link
PacificSource Small Employer 1/1/2010 10/22/2009 11.52% 11.52% 33,404 Link
Regence Small Employer 1/1/2010 10/30/2009 19.40% 16.00% 56,766 Link
Regence Individual 4/1/2010 12/7/2009 25.30% 16.00% 73,271 Link
United HealthCare Small Employer 3/1/2010 12/5/2009 15.40% pending 11,612 Link
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